Been involved in lots of discussion about the future funding of S4C over the last few days. Better be careful what I post, because the S4C board tell us they are going to law over something or other to do with this issue - (wonder where the money's coming from to pay the costs?). Best begin with a personal recap. I had thought it reasonable that S4C should face some reduction in public funding. after all, the most vulnerable people in our society were having to make a contribution to clearing up the financial problems facing our country. It inevitably follows that I supported the Government's decision to cut the link between S4C funding and the rate of inflation. This had to be done. I know that several people disagreed, demanding that S4C be treated the same as the BBC, thus suffering no cut at all. I suppose their position is a bit 'stuffed' now that the BBC is facing a rather large cut itself! Interestingly, the Chairman of the BBC has welcomed the 6 year licence fee agreement as very good news. Its clearly a better 6 year deal than he had expected.
But back to the S4C issue. I cannot disclose private conversations, but I've been very surprised by the number of people who have told me that the CSR deal is a good one for S4C, and the exchequer, (and even the BBC). In today's Western Mail, Euryn Ogwen has gone public and said that the new arrangements should allow the channel to prosper. These comments don't quite fit in with the orchestrated 'outrage' we have seen from some quarters.
In assessing my 'take' on the proposed changes, its useful to consider what I actually wanted two weeks ago. I wanted S4C to continue as an 'independent' Welsh Language channel, funded sufficiently well to provide quality output. I had already been told that a lot of work was going on to merge the 'back office' work or S4C and the BBC, and knew there would have to be some form of protocol to protect S4C from domination by its 'leviathonic' partner. When I try to take an impassioned view of this highly-charged issue, I'm not sure that I didn't get all that I wanted. The only with a genuine grouse that has real credibility is the BBC, though even here, it seems that the outcome is better than the bosses were expecting. And Rupert Murdoch thinks the Beeb have got away far too lightly. I wonder what the people of Wales think?